Unfair or not? Ateneo and UST’s new criteria for accepting freshmen are based on past credentials

September 3, 2020 - 7:10 PM
This composite photo shows a building of the Ateneo de Manila University and the main building of University of Santo Tomas. (Ateneo de Manila University/Facebook and Wikimedia Commons/File photo)

The Ateneo de Manila University and the University of Santo Tomas will screen potential students based on their previous scholastic achievements, a new process which earned some disapproval online.

In separate announcements shared online, two of the country’s top universities canceled their respective college entrance exams in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a post on September 1, AdMU stated that it will not administer the annual Ateneo College Entrance Test or ACET for 2021 to 2022.

“Times are evolving but our commitment to academic excellence and formation has not changed. Get #readyfortomorrow, the Ateneo way,” the post read.


UST likewise shared the same statement through the official website of UST’s Office of Admissions.

Instead of the annual UST Entrance Test or USTET, the institution will conduct a new screening process called UST Admission Rating (USTAR).

“Instead, admission to UST for the AY 2021-2022 shall be through the University of Santo Tomas Admission Rating. The USTAR is a score that will be computed from a number of parameters derived largely from the academic performance and record of the applicant,” UST said.

Based on the USTofad Facebook page, the university started accepting applicants last August 30.

The University of Santo Tomas Admission Rating for College Admission begins now. Get a step closer to your future as a…

Posted by UST – Office for Admissions on Saturday, August 29, 2020


In another advisory on September 1, UST invited aspiring Thomasians to sign up for a career talk session to help them and their school with their concerns regarding the new procedure.

“Hello, aspiring Thomasians! It’s College application season once again. We know that you have lots of questions about the University of Santo Tomas Admissions for this academic year and we are here to help! Let us know if you would like us to include your school for an online career talk session on our next available schedule,” the post read.

Hello, aspiring Thomasians! It's College application season once again. We know that you have lots of questions about…

Posted by UST – Office for Admissions on Monday, August 31, 2020

What is the new screening process?

Based on AdMU’s application website, prospective Ateneans will be screened based on their past academic and non-academic records from grade 9 to 12.

“The Committee on Admission and Aid is responsible for selecting the new members of the student body. It bases its decisions principally on the applicant’s past academic performance, on the recommendations of teachers, essay, and on information written down on the application form,” the website read.

The application process is also divided into three routes for students from selected schools in Metro Manila, those from the rest of the Philippines and those from abroad.

The deadline for application is on December 1 and the results are expected to be released in February 2021.

UST follows a similar scheme wherein future Thomasians will be judged based on their past scholastic credentials, both academic and extra-curricular, in the past two years, along with other information required during the registration.

The university’s colleges, faculties, institutes and schools may also require other exams such as an audition or a drawing. They also have a set cut-off score or passing rate.

“The USTAR looks at all of the information submitted by the applicant.  It is the applicant’s consistency of performance that will qualify them into the program they apply for,” UST said.

The deadline for USTAR is on December 18. Results will also be released in 2021.

A question of fairness

The college entrance exam is often the last hope of some students who may not have done well during their senior and junior high school years.

This was the main argument of students on Twitter who deemed the new criteria for admissions as unfair.

“If you’re relieved that both the ACET and USTET were not administered this year, that’s because you were lucky enough to receive satisfactory grades (regardless if you made an effort or not)—which is NOT something that all students get. again, check your privilege,” a Twitter user wrote.

“It’s unfair for admission to be based solely on awards and grades from the applicants’ previous schools kasi aminin na natin, may mga school talaga na mema mema mamigay ng grade at award,” another user said.

Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines has yet to announce if its annual UP College Admission Test or UPCAT will be held this year.

UP students, however, are calling for the suspension of classes for the whole year. UP is expected to resume classes on September 10.